1. Wide of EU Brexit Steering Group coordinator Guy Verhofstadt arriving at meeting and saying while walking UPSOUND (English) "We will make an assessment immediately and afterward I think there will be a statement of the Brexit Steering Group"
2. Wide of former European Parliament president, MEP and Brexit Steering Group member Antonio Tajani arriving
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Antonio Tajani, MEP and Brexit Steering Group member:
"We will work all together, we will study, we will give an answer to the proposal of the UK."
(Reporter journalist: Are you willing to compromise?)
"We have the meeting now, to decide before the meeting is not easy."
4. EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier arriving
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Michel Barnier, EU chief Brexit negotiator:
"So my team met the British team today and we received a legal proposal. There is progress but to be frank a lot of work still needs to be done to reach, to fulfil, the three objectives of the backstop: no border, all-Ireland economy and protecting the single market, that means protecting the consumers, the citizens and the businesses inside the single market, the 27 member states (of the EU)."
6. Cutaway journalists
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Michel Barnier, EU Brexit chief negotiator:
"The no deal will never be the choice of the EU, never, so we will continue to reach a deal, to work with the UK team, but a deal which respects and fulfils the three commitments, the three proposals of the backstop just as I mentioned, in a legally operative manner and respecting the mandate given to the Commission by the European Council and the Parliament."
The European Union's Brexit negotiator said Wednesday the Brexit proposals of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson constitute "progress" that finally opens up room for negotiations before the crucial EU summit in two weeks’ time.
But Michel Barnier said the gap between both sides remains daunting and "to be frank lots of work still needs to be done" to reach a new agreement and an alternative to the so-called Northern Ireland "backstop".
The border on the island of Ireland remains the key sticking point and the EU is insistent it remains transparent and open, that any deal doesn’t hamper the seamless economic cooperation between the EU’s Ireland and the UK’s Northern Ireland and that any border deal respects the rules of the EU internal market.
Barnier said ahead of a meeting of the EU's Brexit Steering Group in Brussels that "no deal will never be the choice of the EU, never, so we will continue to reach a deal".